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Seabird Behaviour

Dr. Ian Jones

Research interests:

My research program is concerned with the ecology and evolutionary biology of seabirds, with an emphasis on demography, conservation issues, mate choice and sexual selection. My field studies have focused on the ecology of the Auks (Alcidae) of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Bering Sea. Currently I am involved in two major long-term field research projects: behavioural ecology, demography and conservation of Aethia auklets at Buldir and Kiska Islands, Alaska, with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, AND demography of tropical seabirds at French Frigate Shoals Atoll (within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument), with the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a number of other smaller related projects.

I am interested in the processes that determine seabird population dynamics, especially related to oil spills, predation by gulls and introduced mammals, mortality related to commercial fishing, habitat destruction by humans, and fluctuation in food availability related to climate change and oceanographic processes. To this end, I have been involved in long-term mark-recapture studies of the following species: Least, Crested and Whiskered Auklets at Buldir Island, Alaska (with the Aleutian Island Unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge AMNWR); Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, and Thick-billed and Common Murres at the Gannet Islands, Labrador (ACWERN); and Red-tailed Tropicbird, Bonin Petrel, Christmas Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Masked Booby at French Frigate Shoals, NW Hawaiian Islands. We are measuring seabird survival rates, investigating the causes of variation in adult survival (especially climate change), and asking how these relate to measured changes in population size. Increasingly I am interested in science related to restoration of endangered islands.

I am interested in the function of elaborate ornamental traits of monogamous species (particularly seabirds), and the mechanisms by which these adornments may have evolved. My PhD thesis (with Bob Montgomerie, Queen's University concerned the ornamental traits and plumage variation of Least Auklets. This study and continuing work on Crested Auklets provided evidence for the role of mutual sexual selection involving mutual mating preferences in ornament evolution. Recent experiments have shown a heterospecific mating preference for crest ornaments by the crestless Least Auklet, evidence consistent with sexual selection for sensory exploitation. Continuing behavioural ecological research on Least, Crested and Whiskered Auklets at Buldir addresses topics including: function of Whiskered Auklet ornaments, a comparative study of sperm competition and extra-pair parentage, the relation of ornaments and parental care and the function of Least Auklets' plumage polymorphism. I am also collaborating with AMNWR on a project investigating the impact of introduced Norway Rats on auklet populations at Kiska, Island, Aleutian Islands.

Some recent publications:

Jones, I.L., F.M. Hunter, Robertson, G.J., Williams, J.C. and G.V. Byrd. 2007. Covariation among demographic and climate parameters in Whiskered Auklets (Aethia pygmaea). Journal of Avian Biology 38(4): 450-461

Hagelin, J.C. and I.L. Jones. 2007. Bird odors and other chemical substances: a defense mechanism or overlooked mode of intraspecific communication? Auk (PERSPECTIVES IN ORNITHOLOGY) 124(3): 741-761.

Muzaffar, S.B. and I.L. Jones. 2007. Activity periods and questing behavior of the seabird tick Ixodes uriae (Acari: Ixodidae) on Gull Island, Newfoundland: the role of puffin chicks. Journal of Parasitology 93(2): 258-264

Muzaffar, S.B., Hoberg, E.P. and I.L. Jones. 2007. First record of Alcataenia larina larina (Cestoda: Dilepididae) in Atlantic Puffins (Aves, Alcidae, Fratercula arctica) from Newfoundland, Canada. Comparative Parasitology 74(2): 380-382.

Major, H.L., Jones, I.L., Charette, M.R. and A.W. Diamond. 2006. Variations in the feeding ecology of introduced Norway rats. Journal of Zoology (London).

Muzaffar, S.B., Ydenberg, R.C. and I.L. Jones. 2006. Avian influenza: An ecological and evolutionary perspective for waterbird scientists. Waterbirds 29(3): 243-256.

Paredes, R., Jones, I.L. and D.J. Boness. 2006. Parental roles of male and female Thick-billed Murres and Razorbills at the Gannet Islands, Labrador. Behaviour 143: 451-481.

Major, H.L., I.L. Jones, G.V. Byrd, and J.C. Williams. 2006. Assessing the effects of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) on survival and productivity of Least Auklets (Aethia pusilla) at Kiska Island, Alaska. Auk 123(3): 681-694.

Goudie, R.I. and I.L. Jones. 2005. Feeding behaviour of Harlequin Ducks (Histronicus histronicus) breeding in central Labrador: a test of the food limitation hypothesis. Bird Behaviour 17:9-18.

Major, H.L. and I.L. Jones. 2005. Distribution, biology and prey selection of introduced Norway Rats Rattus norvegicus at Kiska Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Pacific Conservation Biology 11(2): 105-113.